Brumbies out to crash Highlanders' party

Thu, 10/06/2021, 06:51 am
Darren Walton - AAP
by Darren Walton - AAP
Allan Alaalatoa is hoping for freezing conditions as they welcome the Highlanders to Canberra. Photo: Getty Images

The Highlanders should brace for a frosty reception as the Brumbies plot to eliminate New Zealand's unbeaten high-flyers from the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman title race on Friday night.

The Highlanders enter the last-round fixture in second spot and on track for a place in next week's grand final.

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But the Hurricanes and Super Rugby Aotearoa champions the Crusaders are ready to cash in on a Highlanders slip-up at GIO Stadium.

Chasing back-to-back wins over Kiwi opposition for the first time since 2014 after taking down the Chiefs last week, the Brumbies are reveling in sub-zero temperatures in Canberra and are hoping for more of the same for the Highlanders.

"If it's cold for us, then it's definitely colder for them," skipper Allan Alaalatoa said after Thursday's captain's run.

"We've trained in these conditions during the week and we're prepared for it. I hope it's minus four tomorrow and raining."

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After three straight defeats, the Brumbies found the key to toppling New Zealand outfits with a gritty 12-10 victory over the Chiefs.

It was only the second win from 20 games for an Australian team this tournament, but the Brumbies are intent on backing it up.

"We showed last week that when we dig our heels in and we have the opportunity to play the sort of footy that we know we can do, we can stick it with the best of them," Wallabies winger Tom Wright said after inking a two-year contract extension with the Brumbies on Thursday.

"So ideally we put on another strong defensive effort tomorrow night and give ourselves our best shot." 

The Highlanders have racked up 101 points in their past two wins over the Melbourne Rebels and NSW Waratahs.


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Alaalatoa says the onus is on the Brumbies pack to deny the Highlanders as much possession as possible.

"The Highlanders are a great team who pride themselves on their set piece and they've been very dominant there, not only in the Trans-Tasman (competition) but also in the Super Rugby Aotearoa as well," the Wallabies prop said.

"So we definitely know that we've got to match them up front.

"They've not only got one of the best lineout drives but their scrum is also dominant as well.

"We're also a team that relies on our set piece, our forwards as well."

The Queensland Reds, also playing a party pooper role, face the Hurricanes in Friday night's other game in Wellington.

Victory for the Reds, the only other Australian team to boast a win in the competition, would cruel the Hurricanes' finals chances.

The NSW Waratahs' hopes of ending their record 12-game losing streak took another blow on Thursday, with scans confirming halfback and captain Jake Gordon will be sidelined for up to eight weeks with a knee injury.

The setback also rules Gordon out of the Wallabies' three-Test series with France.

The Waratahs play the Chiefs on Saturday in Sydney.

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